July 9, 2007 by

Bob Evans


Categories: Business, Military

bevans.jpgRestaurateur Bob Evans cooked up a recipe for success — and for great tasting sausage.
Born in Sugar Ridge, Ohio, Evans opened his first restaurant, The Malt Shop, in the 1940s, but sold the business to a friend when he enlisted in the Army. After World War II ended, he launched a 12-seat, 24-hour truck stop restaurant in Gallipolis, Ohio, to help pay the mortgage on his farm. The sign over the restaurant said it all: “No beer, just fine food.”
At the time, sausage was generally made from hog scraps. Determined to produce a better-quality sausage, Evans culled together $1,000, three hogs, 40 pounds of black pepper, 50 pounds of sage and other secret ingredients and began experimenting. Using the best parts of the hog, including the hams and tenderloins, he created a sausage that was a huge hit with the truckers who tasted it. Many would eat their breakfasts at his restaurant, then purchase 5- or 10-pound tubs of sausage to take home to their families. In response, Evans built a sausage plant on his farm and sold even more tubs to area groceries and meat markets.
In 1953, Evans joined forces with five friends and relatives to incorporate Bob Evans Farms, and purchase a sausage packing plant in Xenia, Ohio. The first Bob Evans restaurant, which was originally called The Sausage Shop, opened on the Evans’ farm in 1962. A year later, the company went public, trading on the Nasdaq under the symbol BOBE. Today, the chain of 590 red brick restaurants operates in 18 states and brings in $1.6 billion annually. Evans’ signature sausage is on every menu, along with other comfort foods like meatloaf and gravy, country-fried steaks and whole pies.
Wearing a white Stetson hat and a string tie, Evans frequently appeared in the restaurant’s early advertising, urging customers to “come on down and visit us.” Millions did so. The restaurant chain, which promotes good service and farm-fresh food in a homey environment, also operates 108 Mimi’s Cafe casual restaurants in 19 states, and sells sausage and other products in U.S. grocery stores. Bob retired in 1986, and his cousin Dan Evans took over as CEO. Dan retired in 2000; today, no Evans family members are involved with the company.
A “man of the soil” who was passionate about 4-H and other farm-related programs, Evans spent nearly 40 years preserving wildlife on his farm. In 2003, he and his wife Jewell donated 20 horses and $75,000 to West Virginia University’s Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences to promote the creation of an undergraduate degree minor in equine management.
His conservation efforts earned him three honors from the National Wildlife Federation. He also received the Ohio Wildlife Conservationist of the Year and the Ohio Governor’s Award, and was inducted into both the Ohio State Fair Hall of Fame and the 4-H Hall of Fame.
Evans died on June 21 of complications from pneumonia. He was 89.

2 Responses to Bob Evans

  1. rowdy

    Bob was the finest man I’ve ever known. He was down to earth and as honest as the day is long.He was a visionary with the abality to see the potential in projects and people.An advocate of southern Ohio who will be missed tremendously.No one that knew him could say a bad word about him.

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